by Martha Bowers, Executive Director
Spring. A time to feel renewed and hopeful.
This spring is different.
It’s not news that the economy is crumbling. With Wall Street’s troubles, government agencies are trimming back, but the non-profit sectors and school art programs are being decimated. The New York Times reported on February 1, 2008, that the Education Department will cut $180 million in this fiscal year, with an additional $324 million disappearing next year. Effective immediately, school budgets have been cut by 1.75 percent. As stated in the article:
Principals said they were particularly upset because the cuts come in the middle of the year, when they have already hired teachers, planned their schools’ schedules, and promised their students and parents certain perks, like after-school programs.
DTE has successful programs at three Brooklyn public schools. Our arts education programs are not “perks.” They provide services that use the arts to address important issues such as tolerance, conflict resolution and offer alienated youth a much needed community. School principals are faced with difficult choices, and no matter how much they may value our services, these programs will be the first to go.
Around 30% of DTE’s income comes from arts education programs. These programs are funded by the Department of Education as well as private foundations, the New York State Council on the Arts and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. All of these organizations are also facing budget reductions.
Combined, the proposed cuts will severely limit DTE’s ability to operate and serve our community. DTE, like many non-profits, already stretches every dollar. Nothing can be cut without reducing services and laying off vital staff.
Short term, the City and State may balance their budgets, but at what cost? More teen crime, fewer students graduating and higher unemployment are just a few of the problems that will increase government costs in the future.
Constituents must contact their local city council member as well as their state and federal representatives to let them know culture and education are not perks. Ask them to consider carefully where they look to trim the budgets and demand that they restore funding to the New York City Board of Education, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York Council on the Arts.
ACT NOW — the deadline for the State budget is April 1.
Help Dance Theatre Etcetera continue our programs: DONATE NOW